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Game Preview #58: New Jersey Devils vs Columbus Blue Jackets

The Devils look to bounce back from a rough outing against a team that has lost four straight.

New Jersey Devils v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (21-26-10) versus the Columbus Blue Jackets (30-18-11)

The Time: 6:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

Abysmal: The Devils allowed five goals on 31 shots to Carolina last game. Louis Domingue now has five games this season where he has given up five or more goals. He has played 15 games this season. I understand that the Devils are a bad team that give up a lot of opportunities, but Domingue has been bad this season.

Interesting Developments in Binghamton: As the Devils struggle to keep four lines consistent in New Jersey, this has happened in Binghamton:

I wonder if he gets a call-up before the end of the season. With just over a month and a half left to show improvement, I think he should get at least a few more games in the NHL this season.

Hot, Cold: The Columbus Blue Jackets are 0-2-2 in their last four games. Prior to that, they were 19-2-5 in 26 games. In those 26 games, despite having bad possession stats with a 45.6 Corsi For percentage, they outscored opponents 75 to 44 in all situations.

Much of their success this season has come with Elvis Merzlikins in net. In 14 games played from December 31 to February 7, Merzilikins had a 12-2-0 record with a .953 save percentage and 5 shutouts.

Merkley and Anderson: Skill has been a thing missing from the fourth line throughout this season, with Kevin Rooney and John Hayden often doing little to nothing in the offensive end (at least until a couple games the past few weeks). Joey Anderson was recalled earlier this month and has a goal and an assist in six games. That goal came from Nick Merkley, who was recalled earlier this week. Acquired in the Taylor Hall trade, Merkley has been productive in the AHL. In 21 games with Binghamton, he had seven goals and 11 assists.

Also bringing a positive possession differential in their first game on the same line, I would hope they can bring some bottom six offense in the last quarter of the season. Unfortunately, because he was on the roster due to an injury, Merkley is not playing tonight. I’m sure he will be back in soon. In the meantime, Joey Anderson will play with Miles Wood and Kevin Rooney tonight.

Nico Back: After missing several games with an injury, Nico Hischier is making his return to the lineup.

The first line has suffered at times without their best player, and it will be good to see him in the lineup against a team the Devils always seem to have trouble against.

Having Jack Hughes back on the third line will be helpful, as they’ve been really inconsistent with Wood and Zacha. Keeping Hughes off top matchups will probably help the Devils compete, too. And while Miles Wood has shown some flashes of good passing lately (especially versus Detroit), he is better off on the fourth line since Pavel Zacha’s passing skill is more suitable for being on Jack Hughes’ wing.

Full Lineups:

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game? Are you excited to see Blackwood in net again (I know I am)? Do you think the goalies will lead us to a stingy or high-scoring affair? If Merkley and/or Anderson keep making a difference when given the chance, do you think will someone be traded in the near future? Will Boqvist return to the team if that happens? Should he? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.